The Irish word for ‘October’ and other words related to ‘fómhar’ and ‘fómhair’ Posted by róislín on Oct 6, 2014 in Irish Language
In some previous blogs (naisc thíos), we’ve looked at the names of the months (míonna) and seasons (séasúir) in Irish, including a discussion specifically of “September” and “October.”
So let’s try a little mixing and matching for review of “September,” “October,” and the Fall or Autumn season.
Given the word “fómhar” and its possessive form “fómhair,” which would you put into these phrases? Freagraí thíos.
1) Meán ________ (as in: Osclaíonn a lán scoileanna i mí Mheán __________).
2) Deireadh _____ (as in: Tá “Oíche Shamhna” ar an lá deireanach de mhí Dheireadh __________ ach tá an tSamhain í féin i Mí na Samhna).
3) an _____________ (as in: Is é an ________________ an séasúr a thagann tar éis an tsamhraidh).
And what does this word “fómhar” [FOH-irzh] literally mean? An cuimhin leat?
The basic meaning is “harvest,” which makes logical sense, since “Meán Fómhair” means “middle of harvest” and “Deireadh Fómhair” means “end of harvest.”
If you’re wondering what happened to “the beginning of the harvest,” bhuel, the system isn’t totally systematic here. The month before September, in Irish, is Lúnasa (aka Lughnasa, Lughnasadh, and, in an even older spelling, Lugnasad). “Lúnasa” is the month traditionally honoring the Celtic deity “Lug(h),” with the main celebration on August 1 (Lá Lúnasa).
If you haven’t yet seen the movie Dancing at Lughnasa, with Meryl Streep, I’d highly recommend it, partly for Brian Friel’s gripping story itself, originally a stage play, but also partly for the background context of celebrating “Lughnasa,” in rural Donegal in the 1930s. And certainly, if you have a chance to see the actual play, go for it, but for seeing live performances we all depend on when our local theatrical communities decide to produce which plays. We can see scannáin anytime (here scannáin = movies/films, not its original sense of “membranes”).
One thing we can certainly note is that it’s somewhat more logical to refer to September and October as the “middle of harvest” and “end of harvest” than as “seventh month” (from “septem”) and “eighth month” (from “octo”), as their English names suggest. Those terms reflect the Roman calendar, when the time of our September” really was the seventh month and October was really the eighth month. So even if “tús an fhómhair” (the beginning of the harvest), as it were, is missing from the pattern for the Irish language names, the meán/deireadh system still reasonably logical.
Of course, the ultimate in logic would be for the calendar to be based on one main concept, like planting and harvesting crops throughout the year. But no, if we look at the year as a whole, we see it’s a mixture of Latin borrowings (Eanáir, m. sh.), other Celtic calendar terms (Bealtaine, Samhain, m. sh.), and one specifically Christian reference (Nollaig). Bhuel, it’s not as though anyone sat down with a clean slate and thought up all the month names at once. We see the same mixture of sources for the names of the days of the week, both in English and Irish. English has “Thursday,” from the Scandinavian “Thor,” but “Saturday,” from the Latin-based “Saturn.” In Irish, “an Aoine” (Friday), is “the day of the fast,” referring to Christianity, but “an Satharn” (Saturday) refers, like English does, to Saturn.
Well, who ever said that systems (córais) are systematic (córasach)? B’fhéidir i dteangacha ríomhaireachta [ih DjANG-uh-khuh REEV-irzh-ukh-tuh], computer languages) but not i dteangacha daonna (in human languages).
Speaking of loighic and comhsheasmhacht, with all the current discussion of the “hunter’s moon” or “blood moon” these days, it’s interesting to note that there are several choices for the Irish phrase for “harvest moon,” the full moon nearest to the autumnal equinox. The two terms I’m most familiar with are:
Gealach na gcoinlíní, lit. the moon of the cut cornstalks
Gealach na gcoinleach, lit. the moon of the stubble or stubble-field (left over from the harvest)
But double-checking, I see that “gealach an fhómhair” is also used. So logic can prevail, agus bheadh an tUasal Spock sásta! SGF – Róislín
P.S. Just noticed, “Gealach an Fhómhair” is also the name of a reel. B’fhéidir go seinneann cuid agaibh é?
Ainmneacha na Míonna i nGaeilge (Names of the Months in Irish) Posted on 6. Sep, 2012 by róislín in Irish Language
Meán Fómhair, Deireadh Fómhair, and An Fómhar vs. an Fómhair Posted on 15. Sep, 2012 by róislín in Irish Language
1) Meán Fómhair (as in: Osclaíonn a lán scoileanna i mí Mheán Fómhair).
2) Deireadh Fómhair (as in: Tá “Oíche Shamhna” ar an lá deireanach de mhí Dheireadh Fómhair ach tá an tSamhain í féin i Mí na Samhna).
3) an fómhair (as in: Is é an fómhair an séasúr a thagann tar éis an tsamhraidh).
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